A syzygy feels magical, and not just because it gets you at least 25 points in Scrabble. The whole concept of celestial bodies aligning feels poetic. When it results in a total solar eclipse here on Earth, you can feel for a few moments as though you're part of something much greater and grander than yourself. The transience only makes it more beautiful. Which is why thousands of people will flock to the path of totality on August 21, 2017: to witness a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.
Imagine. You are an ancient human and your reliable and faithful sun suddenly and unexpectedly goes dark. This terrifies you. You think, 'What if it never comes back? Oh gods, WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO DESER...oh, it's back. Phew.' But then, over the years, it keeps happening. You begin to lose trust in the sun's loyalty and start recording when these events happen. Centuries go by and eventually enough of a pattern has built up that early civilizations are able to predict when these crazy events might occur.
In less than two years, the New Horizons space probe is going to go whizzing by an object a billion miles further away from us than Pluto at speeds of up to 30,000 miles per hour. We know generally where that object—MU69, a cold dark object in the Kuiper Belt—will be thanks to telescope observations, otherwise we wouldn't be able to rendezvous with it at all, but like a blind date, we're not 100 percent sure what to expect. Details like the shape, exact size, color of the object and even if it has close neighbors all remain elusive.